APHIS Provides Updates on Two Animal Welfare Act Petitions

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In 2012, APHIS received two petitions submitted by stakeholders requesting the Agency ban all public contact with dangerous animals exhibited under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and ban the use of pit-type enclosures for bears exhibited under the AWA. In 2013, APHIS solicited public comment on the content of these petitions, additional questions, and scientific information related the issues.  APHIS reviewed and discussed the individual responses received. 


Regarding the petition to address public contact with dangerous animals, APHIS received 15,379 comments. APHIS received 8,729 comments on the petition to ban pit-type enclosures.  APHIS intends to employ a multi-pronged approach for the issues raised in the petitions. APHIS will be considering the revision of the AWA regulations to further address public contact with dangerous animals, and, in the meantime, will issue new policy statements to clarify the regulations, fact sheets and technical notes to educate the industry on current scientific and animal welfare guidelines. With respect to considering revisions to the AWA regulations, we will be requesting input from our stakeholders.  We will continue to utilize stakeholder announcements via GovDelivery to provide notification regarding future meetings and webinars. 


APHIS will also continue to pursue enforcement action, as appropriate, for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.